Saturday, November 9, 2013

US Navy Christens Next-Generation Aircraft Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78)

(US) Since Pearl Harbor, the primary instrument of US power projection has been its aircraft carriers. The current iteration (the Nimitz class) first saw service almost 40 years ago, and the last in its class, USS George H.W. Bush, was taken into service 4 years ago. (The class weighs approximately 100,000 tons when fully loaded, is capable of steaming faster than thirty knots, self-sustaining for up to ninety days, and launching aircraft to strike targets hundreds of miles away. However, the biggest problems facing the Nimitz class are the limited electrical power generation capability, the upgrade-driven increase in ship weight and erosion of the center-of-gravity margin needed to maintain ship's stability.)

However, no matter how many times you tweak things, the class is 40 years old and to that end the US Navy implemented plans to replace the current carrier fleet with a new and improved model. Which is where the USS Gerald R. Ford class super carriers come in.

Designed from the go to rectify all the issues that have cropped up with the previous design, it is equipped with a phased array radar, an island that is shorter in length, which is 20 feet taller than that of the Nimitz class, it is set 140 feet further aft and three feet closer to the edge of the ship. Electromagnetic catapults (EMALS) will launch aircraft, eliminating the need to store water and heat it for steam catapults. The Ford can accomplish 25% more aircraft launches per day than the Nimitz and requires 25% fewer crew members. The U.S. Navy estimates it will save $4 billion in operating costs over a 50-year lifespan.

Anyway, the Navy christened the USS Gerald R. Ford on Saturday with the traditional smashing of a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow of the ship. This time, honoured act was carried out by Ford's daughter, Susan Ford Bales. The ship is set to join the fleet in 2016. Here is the link to the official USS Gerald R. Ford website.